Britain Says Houthi Rejection of Hodeidah Deal Will Lead to Renewed Fighting

Spokesperson of the UK government in the Middle East and North Africa, Alyson King warned that the Iran-backed Houthi militias’ refusal to withdraw from the Yemeni coastal city of Hodeidah, in accordance to the Sweden deal, will lead to a renewal of fighting.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, she refused to name the sides that are hindering the implementation of the Sweden deal that was reached between the legitimate government and Houthis in December.

She instead stressed that the best option for the Yemeni people to save their country was political dialogue.

Britain and Saudi Arabia were working on encouraging the concerned parties to hold these talks, she added.

Commenting on Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s recent visit to Yemen, King said he urged the warring parties to display courage and work on achieving peace in accordance to the UN-brokered Sweden deal. 

Among the stipulations of the agreement is the Houthi withdrawal from Hodeidah and its three ports and redeployment of local neutral forces in their place.

King emphasized that Houthis must depart Hodeidah, otherwise fighting will resume, adding that London supports the efforts of UN envoy Martin Griffiths to achieve peace.

Asked about Britain’s vision for the future of Yemen and its South, she replied that this issue is in the hands of the Yemeni people and that London supports the sovereignty and independence of Yemen.

Turning to Iran’s role in the war-torn country, King confirmed British concerns over Tehran’s activity, saying this issue was brought up with its government.

She stressed that the armament of the Houthis violates UN Security Council resolutions, adding that London is deeply concerned with reports that Iran had supplied the militias with ballistic missiles. 

These arms threaten regional security and will only prolong the crisis, she warned.

Addressing ties between London and Riyadh, King said that the cooperation between the two sides on Yemen is focused on reaching a political resolution to the crisis. This was confirmed during the visit paid to London by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in May 2018.

Saudi Arabia enjoys a strong relationship with the Yemeni government and when needed, London has worked closely with it to overcome contentious issues and reach the Stockholm deal, she continued.

On Houthi ballistic missile attacks against Saudi Arabia, she stressed that the Kingdom has the right to defend itself against the dangerous threats. She revealed that London has provided assistance to Riyadh in countering this danger.

She clarified that Britain does not play a role in setting Arab coalition policies or carrying out air raids. Its role is limited in handling a specific threat.

AFP.

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